To “conserve” in the political sense, means to adhere to traditions of fiscal responsibility and seek to minimize the government’s intrusion or encroachment on individual rights! If that is what we meant in today’s U.S. by “conservative,” that would be a perfectly understandable political position for a rational Gay person to take.
However, the unfortunate reality is that what passes for “conservatism” today is diametrically opposed to those very traditional principles! When George Bush was President, he inherited an economic surplus and in just a few short years came to the point where we had the largest debt that this nation has ever seen, up until the time that President Obama is about to finish his first term. We invaded a sovereign country based on lies and deceit, having 9/11 cynically used as a pretext to enter a war that I believe was planned before Bush even took office.
Moreover, with the initiation of the Patriot Act, suspension of habeas corpus for those viewed as “enemy combatants,” and a whole host of other encroachments on our civil liberties, the Bush Administration was anything but “conservative,” and did a great deal to encroach upon our individual liberties, more than ably and willingly abetted by most of the mainstream media that both uncritically accepted the sound bites emanating from the self-serving White House, including the Obama White House that enhanced the Patriot Act, acting as mere stenographers of the political spin of the day, and airing hitherto unthinkable hateful rhetoric from assorted talk show hosts.
As we saw when Bush ran for office, we again see Gay people aligning themselves with reactionary forces within our society; forces that seek to deny LGBT people civil rights. For example, on January 4, 2012, GOProud stated:
“Tonight, we congratulate Governor Romney and Congressman Paul on their strong showings in the Iowa caucuses. It is clear that the message of economic renewal and limited government is resonating with Republican voters. Governor Romney is offering detailed conservative plans to put Americans back to work, reign in runaway spending, reduce the size and scope of the federal government, and to keep Americans safe at home and abroad. Romney’s free-market and limited government vision for America’s future is vastly different, and infinitely more optimistic, than the failed big government approach of President Obama.”
One of the consequences of all of this relatively rapid change in our society is the demonization of LGBT people by the self-described “conservative” forces in this country, and the often cowardly capitulation to those forces of the opposing Democratic party that has to appeal to an electorate inundated with what is purported to be “conservative” ideas that are really pure naked hatred dressed in the drag of “conservatism.” So we have largely Republican politicians voicing the “ideas” that they think will garner votes and market share of audience by use of frequently hateful rhetoric and the playing of the politics of exclusion, and who feel the need to intrude on others’ private lives, deny them dignity and full and equal civil rights, and frame our political sport as one where one can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Unfortunately, when it comes to LGBT rights, the scorecard doesn’t show the Republican candidates for president in a very favorable light; shows Obama lethargically being dragged into rescinding DADT, and not making a move to remove DOMA from Federal law.
However, when a Gay person aligns with the political party that seeks to prevent same-sex marriage, that largely demonizes LGBT people, that is quite comfortable with the fact that there are absolutely no federal civil rights protections for LGBT people, assiduously fights “hate crime” legislation, and where LGBT people are viewed as fodder for the purpose of garnering votes, it calls into question what manifestation of self-loathing or self-denigration would foster such an alliance and, even, an allegiance.
As I have previously written, “Being Gay need not be one’s top priority, just as being straight is not to be one’s top priority. However, when a Gay person aligns him/herself with a political party that seeks to prevent same-sex marriage, supports the fact that there are no federal civil rights protections for LGBT people, and is generally hostile to LGBT people, supporting that political party reeks of masochism in my book, and shows that person to be ignorant and/or mendacious and/or traitorous.
I want to try to delve into the dynamics of Gay people aligning themselves with today’s Republican party, a party that has fostered an anti-Gay agenda that is quite extraordinary from a number of perspectives, not the least being the fact that it regards itself as “conservative,” all the while it seeks to limit the human freedom to legally relate to another whom one loves and to whom one seeks to make a lifetime commitment. Why would a Gay person seek to align him/herself with a political party and its allies that view same-sex marriage as an assault on “traditional family values,” ruining “the sanctity of marriage” (posited by people many of whom have been married more than once or even twice), and who apparently feel no compunction about ridiculing Gay people?
I’ve heard more than one such Republican Gay person say that, although they were Gay, that isn’t all they were. They were not one issue voters, and that their being Gay wasn’t the major part of their lives or identities. Fair enough! However, let’s consider another scenario.
If I lived on welfare and food stamps, would it make any sense if I aligned myself with the Democratic Party, for example, if it had as its platform that it was going to do away with welfare and food stamps, and deny those who were on those programs its benefits? Even though I might not consider my economic situation to be the most important “identity” I had, or the fact that I didn’t consider myself to be a one issue voter, would it make any rational sense if I voted for the Democratic ticket if it largely ran on such a platform? I doubt many would answer, “yes,” to this rhetorical question.
I really believe that the bombardment of anti-Gay messages throughout our lives in assorted venues, not the least of which is most of the institutional Church, has taken hold on many LGBT people’s lives and psyches and, even though many are “out,” they still harbor a visceral self-loathing that manifests itself by many identifying with their oppressors. This phenomenon is quite common in a variety of arenas, and it’s called “The Stockholm Syndrome,” where the oppressed become emotionally attached to their oppressors.
Succumbing to this phenomenon doesn’t denote any necessary intentional malice (although the subsequent consequence of that decision can provoke maliciousness) on the part of the victim. It seems to me that it merely denotes that in order to maintain one’s “ego integrity,” and one’s inner sense of “dignity,” one feels that he/she must identify with his/her oppressors (though not consciously acknowledging them as such), so as to consciously reject the role of “victim” and embrace the role as being one of their comrades. Indeed, in this case, “comrades in arms.” (This phenomenon is seemingly quite widespread, as I remember reading a poll shortly after the 2004 Presidential election that about 23% of LGBT people voted for President Bush who largely ran on the platform of placing an amendment into the Constitution preventing same-sex marriage.)
Of course, Gay people, like many of the rest of the population, care about higher taxes (though it could be viewed as irrational to support a political party that has virtually guaranteed higher taxes to pay for the profligate spending that has occurred since we initiated the unnecessary Iraq war and fostered deregulation of much of Wall Street and the banking industry), limited government (though that, too, is irrational, if one is supporting a party that has grossly intruded on many of the bulwarks of our judicial system, such as habeas corpus, and wiretapping without judicial oversight or even prior approval), and would want to vote accordingly. However, the reality of today’s “conservatives,” of today’s Republican party and its likely candidates for President, does not address these concerns, and it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to point out that fact.
Basically, I believe that when one supports a political party that works against that person’s very dignity, personhood, and right to pursue happiness that is the right of every human being to enjoy in the U.S., they manifesting their conscious or unconscious self-loathing in a “Stockholm Syndrome” that not only affirms the party that largely institutionalizes that oppression, but devalues the dignity of the person succumbing to that syndrome and casts them as one who is ignorant or mendacious or traitorous to the LGBT Civil Rights struggle.
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. He also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.